The JuJus

The JuJus United PS Do You Understand Me

The JuJus started as a trio doing a parody of the Beatles at Godwin high school in Grand Rapids in 1963. Members were Rod Shepard on guitar, Max “Junior” Colley on sax; and Bill Gorski drums, their name came from Max’s little brother’s pronunciation of “Junior”. JuJus Fenton 45 You Treat Me Bad

In 1964 the band added Ray Hummel III on vocals and guitar and Rod moved to the bass. Hummel had a distinctive voice, and his talent for folk-influenced songwriting changed the band’s sound. Later on Rick Stevens of the Paeans (who had an unreleased 45 recorded at Fenton) came in to play guitar.

The band played live shows at the Ponytail in Grand Rapids and nearby towns like Holland and Saugatuck. In 1965 worked out a deal with Dave Kalmbach of Great Lakes Recording to do their live act between films at the Hour Theater in exchange for recording time when the theater was closed.

Great Lakes was a vanity label: the bands had to cover all recording and pressing costs and do their own promotion. Studios were originally in Dave Kalmbach’s basement, then moved to the Hour Theater, and later to the nearby town of Sparta. Bands would chose whatever label name they wanted for their 45, Fenton being the most common choice. The records were pressed at the American Record Co. in Owosso, MI, later destroyed by fire in October, 1972. Rod Shepard says, “those records sold for about ninety-eight cents of which we ended up with about a dime.”

The Ju Jus first 45 had two Hummel originals, the amazingly powerful “You Treat Me Bad” and the fifties-sounding “Hey Little Girl”. The record did well locally, supposedly reaching #2 on a chart in western Michigan in October, 1965. The future looked good and Drummond Records of Detroit offered Ray Hummel a contract based on his songwriting. The band couldn’t sign because a newly-married Ray refused to tour out of state, and Ray soon left the band. He recorded a few solo pop 45s over the years, including “Gentle Rain” / “Fine Day” on Fenton with Max Colley playing sax and Bill Gorski on drums.

The JuJu’s had several personnel changes before making their next record. Brett Wells came in on vocals, and Bruce Essex, who had played guitar with Rick Stevens in the Paeans joined for part of 1966. Then Max Colley left and Bill Gorski was drafted, so the band found guitarist Ron Burke and drummer Ron Homrich. Before long Brett left and Ron Burke took over on vocals. Rick Stevens now became the primary songwriter for the band.JuJus United 45 I'm Really Sorry

Though missing Ray’s unique vocals, their second 45, from 1966, is just as good as their first. “I’m Really Sorry” has been one of my favorite garage songs since I first heard it, and “Do You Understand Me” is a strong Stones-influenced punker with sharp guitar, buzzing sounds and broken glass. The United label is another band-financed record recorded through Fenton.

In the summer of ’67 their manager Jim Geeting opened The Island, a teen club in Ludington, in which the Ju Ju’s played regularly and supported touring national acts like the Kingsmen and the Electric Prunes. By this time the band had a tougher rock sound.

In late 1967 the band broke up as Rod Shepard and Rick Stevens went into the military. Rick Stevens joined the Air Force and later died in a plane crash in New Mexico. A number of unreleased songs recorded over the years at the Hope, Chess, and Phil Robert studios have yet to see commercial release. Until recently they were distributed on tape and CDR, but they are currently unavailable, and I haven’t heard them yet.

Sources: 60sgaragebands.com interview with Rod Shepard, Ray Hummel interview by Dave Walters in R.P.M. #4 now reproduced on GrandRapidsRocks.com

6 thoughts on “The JuJus”

  1. February 1, 2009 is the release date for the Jujus THE JUJUS-YOU TREAT ME BAD CD,
    23 Tracks, most unreleased, all their singles 1965-1967. Includes never released material. Produced by Cicadelic Records & available at 60s@cicadelic.com.

  2. I’m sitting next to one of the origional JuJus – Max Coley is visiting with us in Florida and we’re watching the Super Bowl! We never knew about his past until he told us about the group during dinner tonight – knew he was a great musician & Band Director in Grand Rapids.

  3. THE JUJUS – Ray Hummel III Presents: You Treated Me Bad (Ray Hummel III Records RH365) vinyl LP, with booklet

    Compiled from the impressive mastertape collection of The JuJus lead singer, guitarist, and main songwritter Ray Hummel III. This all official LP includes no less but 14 of the very best cuts from 1964-1966 ever recorded by this legendary 60s garage rock and roll outfit from Grand Rapids, Michigan. Side one blasts off with The JuJus monster 1965 garage rock and roll hit YOU TREAT ME BAD in perfect soundquality, followed by four phenomenal previously unreleased studio tracks from early 1966 that are ONLY AVAILABLE ON THIS LP: AS TEARS GO BY (a faithful cover version of The Rolling Stones track from the unreleased 1966 Phil Robert’s Studio recording session), IT’S GONNA BE ALRIGHT (unreleased studio version from 1966 that is different from all other versions), FINE DAY (killer different studio version from the unreleased Phil Robert’s Studio mastertapes. It was recorded at the height of The JuJus career in February 1966), and COME ON CHILDREN (best version of one of their best cuts, also from the completely unreleased 1966 Phil Robert’s Studio tapes) Side one is closing out with another killer high energy 60s garage nugget from 1965 entitled CRYIN’, plus HEY LITTLE GIRL, the fantastic mid-fast 50s rock and roll blended flipside of YOU TREATED ME BAD. Side Two is opening with a fast surf instrumental from 1964 called FLAKE OUT. Next up is The JuJus beautiful unique arrangement of the 60s ballad DON’T LET THE SUN CATCH YOU CRYING, which is a gem of a track and another highlight on this LP. SHE’S MY GIRL appears in the by far best version (also from the unreleased 1966 Phil Robert’s Studio tapes) complete with a rave up to close out the song, and fantastic lead vocals by Ray. Ritchie Valens would have been proud of The JuJus fabulous 1964 version of Donna, which as it turns out also used to be the name of Ray Hummel’s girlfriend back then. The record is closing out with The JuJus debut studio recordings from May 1965: HEY LITTLE GIRL (an early alternate version that clearly shows the 50s rock and roll influence in the band), SUMMERTIME (killer rocking version played The JuJus way), and RUNAROUND (a colossal 50s blended 60s garage rock and roll track with harp and super cool lead vocals by Ray — a bit like Bob Dylan meets Buddy Holly!)

    Highly recommended to anybody into 60s garage, the British invasion, 60s beat, The Rolling Stones, Beatles, and folk-rock like The Dovers, Bob Dylan etc., but also to the surf and 50s rock and roll crowd too! Soundquality is better than on all other previous JuJus anthologies. Beautiful cover artwork, with ultra rare never before seen photo material from the archive of Ray Hummel. It comes complete with extensive liner notes + comments about each track by The JuJus frontman Ray Hummel on the photo packed booklet insert.

    The best JuJus anthology ever made! Each track from this LP could have been a hit, and most of them are ONLY AVAILABLE ON THIS LP!

    First pressing is limited to just 500 copies, and will be slightly different to all future issues, so you better be quick!

    This LP is distributed by Feathered Apple Records, Clear Spot International, and some others! Checkout the website of Feathered Apple Records for full info, and ordering details!

  4. I went to school at Godwin Heights in the 60’s and remember Max Colley and the JuJus very well. I would like to know if there are any CD’s of their music and if so, where I might be able to buy such. God Bless Max and may the world treat your music fondly.

  5. Your site has become a great active archival service. If my ship comes in, I’d love to help fuel your project. Still waiting on the ship. Keep rockin.

  6. Please, somebody, anybody, post the lyrics to “Do You Understand Me”, because, quite honestly, no, “I Don’t Understand You”!!
    Too hard to follow at least for this non-English speaker.

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